Wrigley agrees to buy candy brands from Kraft for a cool mint _ $1.48 billion


Monday, November 15th 2004, 9:29 am
By: News On 6


CHICAGO (AP) _ Sweets giant Wrigley is taking a bite out of Kraft, buying up several of its candy brands including Life Savers and Altoids.

The $1.48 billion deal announced Monday also covers the Creme Savers brand, as well as Trolli gummy candies and other regional brands in the United States, Europe, Indonesia and Thailand.

``There are only a handful of confectionery brands around the world that have the combination of heritage and vitality that can match up with Wrigley brands,'' said Bill Wrigley Jr., the chairman, president and CEO of Chicago-based candy and gum maker Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. ``Altoids and Life Savers are two such brands.''

Kraft Foods, with $31 billion in sales, has decided to cede most of its confection brands in order to concentrate on what food executives call the ``center'' of the store, the traditional supermarket aisles stocked with Kraft cheese, Nabisco cookies and Maxwell House coffee.

``By enabling us to better focus our resources, the sale should create value for Kraft, as well as our employees, customers and shareholders,'' said Kraft chief executive Roger K. Deromedi.

Analysts said Wrigley had about 7.8 percent of the U.S. confectionery market before the sale was announced. Kraft, based in suburban Northfield, had about 4.7 percent.

Others bidding for the Kraft brands were Hershey Foods Corp., Mars Inc., Nestle SA and Cadbury Schweppes PLC.